Dive meet will take place at H2O on Feb 29. Diving boards will be unavailable 11am-8pm. Learn more

KFY water update: The Black Mountain Irrigation District (BMID) is in the process of upgrading their system. The water is safe to drink, but there might be minor variations in quality and pressure. BMID asks us to conserve water during this time. More details

When we first moved to Kelowna, my mom, dad and two sisters were sharing a one-bedroom hotel room and there was no space for me, so I lived out of a van on the street.

I was in a really bad spot — both emotionally and mentally. I had low self-esteem, was fighting depression and didn’t have the confidence to be independent or employable.

As a youth, I didn’t have anyone to look up to, talk to or ask for help or advice; I did not know where to turn. I ended up visiting the Kelowna Friendship Society, who mentioned that the YMCA offered an employment program called Youth Works.

I was accepted into the program right away. Many of the youth, including me, come to the program without the basic necessities of food, proper shelter and clothing so finding a job can often be the least of our problems.

I developed so much self-confidence by making friends, obtaining certifications and networking with employers, that I landed a job at Antico’s pizza.

Gaining employment has changed my life. I now have stable shelter and can afford healthier food. With help from my mentor in the program, I was also granted bursaries that will allow me to attend Okanagan College this September to become a Health Care Assistant. I am walking taller and I couldn’t be more grateful.

—Aaron Dodds